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CWHC on Walter Edgar’s Journal

CWHC on Walter Edgar’s Journal

CWHC Executive Director Brittany Lavelle Tulla and CWHC Board Member Tom Tisdale recently sat down with South Carolina Public Radio’s Walter Edgar to discuss Charleston’s bid for World Heritage status. From the history of the rice culture and the Lowcountry sites that best represent the plantation system, to the benefits of World Heritage and the nomination process, Tulla and Tisdale explained every aspect of CWHC’s mission and the road to gain international historic designation.

“The idea that Charleston could become a World Heritage Site is exciting not just for the folks of the Charleston or the Lowcountry,” said Walter as the interview came to a close. “It is really exciting for all of us in South Carolina because it is a part of our collective history. It will bring additional attention from around the world to a very special part of the world: our world, the Carolina Lowcountry.”

The interview aired on June 10th and June 14th, 2016 on South Carolina Public Radio. To listen to the full podcast, we invite you to visit: http://southcarolinapublicradio.org/post/striving-make-charleston-lowcountry-world-heritage-site

From books to barbecue, from current events to colonial history, Walter Edgar’s Journal delves into the arts, culture, history of South Carolina and the American South. (A production of South Carolina Public Radio.)

 

 

CWHC ED Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Walter Edgar and CWHC Board Member Tom Tisdale
CWHC ED Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Walter Edgar and CWHC Board Member Tom Tisdale.
CWHC TALK AT MOULTRIE MIDDLE SCHOOL

CWHC TALK AT MOULTRIE MIDDLE SCHOOL

On May 31, 2016, CWHC spoke to Ms. Davenport’s 8th grade SC history class at Moultrie Middle School on what is World Heritage and why Charleston is seeking a World Heritage designation. At the end of the talk, each student had a chance to write down what he or she thought was most unique about our home, the Charleston Lowcountry. Here are their incredible answers!

COALITION MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: TONY YOUMANS OF THE OLD EXCHANGE

COALITION MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: TONY YOUMANS OF THE OLD EXCHANGE

CWHC interns Meghan Pickens and Andrew Staton sat down with Tony Youmans, executive director of the Old Exchange Building and Provost Dungeon, to talk history and World Heritage. Nice button, Tony!

What does your role as director entail?

The word director is kind of a misnomer in that most of the time people believe that it is a very high and exalted position and really you’re just responsible for everything. So, to be honest with you, today I have changed lightbulbs, swept the floor, taken garbage out. So, while we manage a staff of about 30 people, the responsibilities are all. So it gives me an opportunity to work with great people; it gives me an opportunity to steward them, you know, when they are in school and interning, and hopefully put them on a path to leadership. And so it’s fun!

What goal influences you the most on a daily basis?

The mission of the Exchange Building is to educate, and we educate by getting people in the building, so that we can tell them the story of the Exchange – which is 245 years old this year. So that mission is fairly wide in that, number one, we have to support the building…We just finished a major $400,000 capital improvement project, where we scraped and painted, so the building looks just absolutely wonderful. It looks great – and we’re really happy about it!

With that restoration work, is there anything else that you think would be great to see happen here?

You know Mayor Riley. I am a big fan of Mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr. – our past mayor here for 40 years…. He always says, ‘There is so much more work to be done, there is so much more to do.’ And he would say that every time he ran for election. And he’s right – there so much more to do! Same thing here at the Exchange Building…. One of the fun things that I would like to do is get back to that interpretation that we talked about is part of our mission. All of these windows and doors that you see in the Old Exchange were open, and so an idea that one of our interns had a couple years ago was to install glass doors on the Exchange floor, so that when you came down Broad Street, you would see the same thing that people saw in 1771 – a wonderful open structure.

How do you think the Old Exchange and Provost has influenced Charleston’s development?

From the very beginning, the commissioners that are placed with the responsibility of getting this built were the same men that sped toward the movement for independence, during the American War… But the building, from 1771 on, was a focal point. It was a geographic location…Everyone in this area [at that time] knew the Exchange. So [they would say] ‘I’ll meet you at the Exchange’ or ‘We’ll go to an auction at the Exchange’ or ‘We’ll have a meeting at the Exchange.’ And so this place is always, always, for 245 years out of this state’s well over 300 year history, this building has been a part of it.

So [based on that] you would say that people who journeyed back to Britain or wherever, they would know where the old Exchange was, if they told a friend who might be going to Charleston, might would bring that knowledge back to them there?

Absolutely and everywhere else. This was an international sea port. John Rutledge, the Colonial Governor of South Carolina during the Revolution, he writes in his journal that, when he is in Charlestown he is at the Exchange every day, because this was [like] CNN. This whole floor. You had merchants here, you had businessmen, you had sea captains that had just arrived from Jamaica or Barbados or St. Augustine. They are carrying [with the] the latest news. And so, he [John Rutledge] is here, it’s the CNN. So [the Exchange] is very important, as far as the business that took place here.

Slaves and the Slave Trade were such important factors in this portion of history. What role did the Old Exchange play in that portion of history?

We just rolled out a new exhibit. We have been studying this for decades, but two years ago we put forth a firm effort to study slave auctions and the African American experience on this site. What we want to do here, ultimately with the Exchange Building is be the absolute authority of what happened on this site… Slaves were the most important part of the agrarian economy that was the South. In the nation, for the most part… The primary location for slave auctions, to sell these people, was the Exchange… So we have got panel information on every level, talking about slaves, their relationship with the building, and most importantly, auctions that took place just north of the building. Again, it was a geographic location. So slave sales were, from 1771 all the way up until 1856, going to take place in or mostly around the Exchange building. So that area just to the north, where there is a beautiful live oak tree, was just a dirt, dusty lot and anywhere from one slave to anywhere around 200 slaves could be sold there, daily…When the British captured the city in May of 1780, this business is so important, so vital to the economy [of that time] that slave sales took place even under British occupation. That fascinates me. And then, ultimately, in 1856 it is so prolific on East Bay Street that merchants are complaining that it’s blocking traffic and also hindering… In 1856, open slave sales and public auctions are forbidden, and then we have private slave sales taking place, and that leads to State Street, Chalmers Street, Queen Street – about 40 locations, number one of which would be Ryan’s auction mart, which today is the location of 6 Chalmer’s Street and is the location of the Old Slave Mart Museum. So, African American experience is highly interwoven with everything in Charleston.

We are working with the CWHC to prove familial and genealogical connections to Charleston. So many famous African Americans can trace their heritage back to Charleston. …

Michelle Obama can trace her ancestry back through Georgetown. Chris Rock and so many more, over and over again you see this…Slavery is without a doubt, the worst scar in our nation’s history, but we’ve got to talk about it. It is a hard irony in that, here at the Exchange building, we celebrate our patriotism. This is where we declared our independence from Great Britain on March 6 of 1776. We elect our Continental Congress Delegates here. We read the Declaration of Independence from the very steps of the Exchange, and read again up in the Great Hall. So all of these wonderful acts of patriotism happen, but how can you justify it when… What did Jefferson mean when he said ‘all men are created equal?’ in the rights of man. So I like to believe and tell our visitors… that our forefathers set forth an opportunity, a template. You know, with the Declaration of Independence, those words, and then ultimately the Constitution of Bill of Rights. It’s up to us.

How can people benefit from knowing the history of this building?

My mother would always say, in a wonderful German accent, ‘Vy are you going to college?’ and I thought about it and went ‘Well mom, so I can open a newspaper in the morning, I can read it and understand it. I can interpret it and make my own decisions.’ And that’s freedom… The study of history, I wish I knew more when I was younger, but I have always had a passion for history and wish I would have done more. My English history is a little weak, my European history is a little weak, but I am staunch patriot and believer in the United States and the dream that is America. We’re going to make mistakes and we’re human, and all we can do is strive to do the right thing. And I think that is what we’re trying to do and I think that is what most people are motivated to do. That is what helps society. And society as a whole obviously benefits from education…

What would you say visitors find most compelling or most interesting when they tour?

I think, when they tour the exchange building, we provide a snapshot of again 245 years of history and before. The site that we talk about is specific to Charleston and very very important… In 1680, the majority of the permanent settlement has moved to the peninsula and took on high land…They decided to fortify the city by building a wall… And we have a portion of that sea wall that was excavated and found by accident in 1966…They tore down parts of it, but they left a substantial amount. So when we talk about the oldest English man-made structure south of Jamestown, Virginia in the 1690s and we have a part of it in our basement, in our dungeon – I call it the dungeon because that was a vernacular term during the American Revolution. You know, we’ve got a part of it, so we interpret history from the earliest days of the colony up until the present. And I think that is what our patrons are most surprised about when they come here is how old Charleston is and we are not all about the Civil War and there is a fairly substantial history to learn. And really, how much South Carolina contributed to the American Revolution. But the earliest parts of the colony, we can interpret right here. Because we are part of it.

Leading into World Heritage, where would you say most of the visitors are from?

The United States by far and away…. Brazil, Spain, people from Eastern Europe…We had a lot of visitors from South America. I was stunned at the international crowd that was visiting…Obviously Charleston is well known for the first shot fired at Fort Sumter in anger on April 12 of 1861 at the start of the Civil War – the worst conflagration in our nation’s history. So, everybody equates Charleston with the Civil War…the majority of Americans and maybe the majority of our international visitors, too, believe that the American Revolution was fought primarily in New England. …In the last eighteen months, more battles are fought in South Carolina then all states combined. Over 160 battles. New Jersey is second. More South Carolinians lose their lives in American Revolution than all states combined. New Jersey is second. We also had more debt in the American Revolution than any other state. And British historians will tell you the war was lost in the south. Francis Marion, the Swampfox, Thomas Sumter, the Gamecock, William Washington, the sword of the calvary, Daniel Morgan, Nathaniel Greene. These great, great heroes of South Carolina.

What about rice – do you see it as a backbone in getting Charleston designated as a world heritage site?

We fed the world in rice for arguably 80 years. We could not have planted this crop and reaped its benefits without slaves – those people that are capable and skilled and knowledgeable of working the fields so that we can benefit from it. This very building, on the oculus – a wonderful architectural detail that is on the water side of the building – and its interpreted in that painting I showed you. That oculus, surrounding it, is a decorative piece of woodwork of rice stalks. So we are bragging to you, as you sail into Charleston, how we made our money. We are telling you by broadcasting it – rice, Carolina Gold.

How long have you been the director here?

I started my 13th year in January of this years. It has been incredible time. I don’t even consider it work. You wake up in the morning and you’re happy to go to work – that’s how you know you’ve found the right place. … How cool is it to work in a place where George Washington was entertained? I mean, to walk in his footsteps, to walk the footsteps of the men upstairs that ratified the Constitution of the United States making us the eighth state. I mean, wow. So that aspect of our history is very rich, its very popular, its great to relate. But you’ve got to talk about it all – you have to talk about the good and the bad, so that is why I am so pleased about this African American initiative and the history.

We would challenge every historic site that interprets history. If it involved African American labor, if it involved this, talk about it. You know, research it, perform due diligence, and talk about it, interpret it and leave it to your visitor to decide as to whether it contributed.

How would UNESCO World Heritage Designation for Charleston impact the Exchange building?

I think it would be another great accolade, and to be included in something as incredible as that, a world heritage site and a world heritage coalition and to be associated with other institutions that are deemed that important and that significant, I cant imagine. It would be just a real symbol of the good work that we have done in a sense of stewardship and relating that history. But it would be an incredible thing for Charleston and it would be in support and be a reward for all the good work and good things that do happen here.

Why do you think Charleston and the Old Exchange should receive this designation?

To be a part of that, to be associated with an international umbrella of support sites – it would be incredible. …people have worked very, very hard to preserve and interpret their sense or their view of what they think is important in Charleston or in South Carolina. We see it all over the state, but no more than in Charleston. This is something very special and unique here…that celebration of what we have done, what people did a hundred years ago as far as preservation and stewardship, that is probably the best thing. Stewardship – that’s what we’re doing. We are here for a short time in this wonderful wonderful place, this cultural, architectural place with so much to offer. It wasn’t difficult for me to think that Charleston should certainly be nominated for World Heritage site status because it is – I mean, you travel, you go to other towns, but this, again, I have never lived anywhere that has such a sense of place – and that’s Charleston.

CWHC ATTENDS CONGRESSIONAL PILGRIMAGE

CWHC ATTENDS CONGRESSIONAL PILGRIMAGE

On March 19, 2016, CWHC Executive Director Brittany Lavelle Tulla and CWHC Vice Board Chair Ruthie Ravenel joined three-dozen members of Congress on the 2016 Congressional Civil Rights Pilgrimage during its stop in Charleston. The CHWC contingency used this time to connect with South Carolina and national political leaders to introduce Charleston’s World Heritage project and lobby for its mission.

Each year, members of Congress congregate for an annual bipartisan pilgrimage hosted by the Faith and Politics Institute to learn the role southern states played in the civil rights movement. As stated by the Institute, the intent is to bring “members of Congress together in a spirit of openness, honesty and reconciliation across lines of race, religion and political party for the purpose of working together in service of our nation and the world.” This year, the congregation visited three cities in South Carolina: Columbia, Orangeburg and Charleston. The event was co-hosted by U.S. House of Representatives Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn (D-SC), U.S. Senator Tim Scott (R-SC), and Civil Rights movement icon U.S. Representative John Lewis (D-GA).

The day’s events included a talk on Charleston Civil Rights leader Septima Clark, the Charleston Hospital Workers’ Strike of 1969 and the development of the Gullah Geechee culture. The cornerstone of the day was hearing from the families, survivors and first responders of the June 17th, 2015 shooting of nine citizens at the Mother Emanuel AME Church.

CWHC was honored to walk alongside members Congress and engage in this important conversation on the history of race relations in Charleston, SC.

To learn more about the South Carolina Congressional Pilgrimage or the Faith and Politics Institute, visit: http://faithandpolitics.org.

Congressional PilgrimageBrittany Lavelle Tulla, Congressman James E. Clyburn and Ruthie Ravenel

at the Congressional Pilgrimage’s evening reception in Charleston, SC (3/19/2016)

 

IAAM AND CWHC FORM PARTNERSHIP

IAAM AND CWHC FORM PARTNERSHIP

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition is eager to announce its partnership with the International African American Museum (IAAM). This week, IAAM chairman Wilbur E. Johnson and former mayor Joseph P. Riley, Jr., chair of the IAAM Construction Committee, signed an agreement with CWHC Chairman Stephen J. Ziff to assist and support one another in achieving their similar missions.

The mission of the IAAM is to “communicate the largely overlooked history of African Americans in the Lowcountry, South Carolina, and explain how this population impacted the nation…to re-center South Carolina’s place in global history, illuminating its pivotal role in the development of the international slave trade and Civil War.” The museum will be constructed on the site of Gadsden’s Wharf, one of Charleston’s most significant slave trade landings and one of CWHC’s highlighted properties. A UNESCO World Heritage listing of Gadsden’s Wharf and other Charleston sites related to the plantation culture, which is the mission of the CWHC, will further the global exposure of the African-American history in the United States exponentially.

Together, the organizations plan to showcase Charleston and South Carolina’s history on a world history platform by commemorating the significant role of slaves in the development of our nation. For more information on the IAAM, please visit http://iaamuseum.org.

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition (CWHC) is a non-profit organization established in 2012 and funded by the City of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation and many others to nominate historic sites representative of the Charleston plantation culture as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the highest cultural and historical designation bestowed on a place or landscape. Over 300 local businesses have signed on as Coalition members (free) in support of the project. Join the movement today: www.charlestonworldheritage.org/support-2/

MAPPUS INSURANCE MAKES FIRST OF TWO DONATION INSTALLMANTS OF $2,500 to CWHC PROJECT

MAPPUS INSURANCE MAKES FIRST OF TWO DONATION INSTALLMANTS OF $2,500 to CWHC PROJECT

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition is pleased to announce that Charleston-based insurance firm Mappus Insurance has made a generous donation in support of Charleston’s effort to obtain World Heritage status for historic sites in the Lowcountry. The $2,500 donation is the first of two installments Mappus has pledged to contribute throughout the course of the year.

“There are many things in the world that we can learn and read about,” says Andrew Muller, president of Mappus Insurance. “But when it comes to the history of Charleston, we can actually touch, feel and see the history right in front of us. Having the ability to ‘live’ history is very powerful and something all should be able to do.”

Muller, a College of Charleston alumnus, is the newest addition to the CWHC board, a diverse group of community leaders dedicated to showcasing Charleston’s global historic significance. “To share the beautiful history of Charleston with the world through a world-class organization in UNESCO is an honor and privilege to us as a community. As someone who specializes in insuring historic properties, historic preservation is at the top of my list.”

About Mappus Insurance

Mappus Insurance is a leading Charleston-based insurance firm specializing in insuring historic properties, beach properties, flood insurance and high-net-worth families. The Mappus client advisors take a very hands-on approach in helping their clients protect their assets and belongings through a process called Mappus 365. The firm has been serving Charleston and Lowcountry families since 1960.

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition (CWHC) is a non-profit organization established in 2012 and funded by the City of Charleston, Historic Charleston Foundation and many others to nominate historic sites representative of the Charleston plantation culture as a UNESCO World Heritage Site – the highest cultural and historical designation bestowed on a place or landscape. Over 300 local businesses have signed on as Coalition members (free) in support of the project. Join the movement today: www.charlestonworldheritage.org/support-2/

CWHC in Washington, D.C.

Charles World Heritage
The CWHC table at the US/ICOMOS 50th Anniversary Gala, December 10, 2015

Charleston Among U.S. World Heritage Representatives at Gala

A big step for the CWHC! This December, members of the Board and Advisory Council of CWHC traveled to Washington, D.C. to represent Charleston at the 50th Anniversary Gala for US/ICOMOS (International Council on Monuments and Sites). The event was held at the Organization of American States Building and was attended by World Heritage representatives and experts from across the nation.

ICOMOS is an association that works for the conservation and protection of cultural heritage places around the world, and provides assistance and advice to UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) on World Heritage designations. In the United States, US/ICOMOS offers guidance to the National Park Service, who nominates U.S. sites to UNESCO for potential World Heritage listing.

Charleston’s delegation included:

Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Director, CWHC

Stephen Ziff, Board Chair, CWHC

Winslow Hastie, Historic Charleston Foundation (institutional member of US/ICOMOS)

Grant Gilmore, College of Charleston and US/ICOMOS Trustee

Ruthie Ravenel, Board Vice Chair, CWHC

CWHC delegation: Brittany Lavelle Tulla, Stephen Ziff, Winslow Hastie, Grant Gilmore and Ruthie Ravenel

 

Charleston’s Debut at the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO

The following day, CWHC presented at the annual meeting of the U.S. National Committee for UNESCO, a Federal Advisory Committee that advises on worldwide humanitarian development, including UNESCO’s World Heritage program. This was an invaluable opportunity to introduce CWHC’s project and mission to a diverse group of U.S. cultural leaders and advocates of World Heritage.

The CWHC intends to continue the conversation of Charleston’s World Heritage eligibility with these national leaders, and looks forward to the opportunity to further converse on the development of World Heritage in the United States in the future!

 

 

Board Member Spotlight – Artist Jonathan Green

Board Member Spotlight – Artist Jonathan Green

Jonathan Green, Artist and Partner with Lowcountry Rice Culture Project

How long has Lowcountry Rice Culture Project had a presence in Charleston?

In reality the Lowcountry Rice Culture, its people (enslaved Africans,African Americans, Native Americans, and Euro-Americans) and their descendents and contributions has existed for over 250 years throughout Charleston and neighboring counties along the coast of South Carolina. The educational foundation known as the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project was officially launched in June of 2012 after two years of working intensely with strategic partners and historians from educational and cultural institutions throughout South Carolina. Our first major educational forum was held in September 2013 to help others discover and revive the significance of rice cultivation and its legacies, and to use this history as a launching off point for board discussions of race, class, art, trade, history and economics.

What do you personally love most about living in Charleston?

I consider Charleston a cross cultural mecca filled with music, dance, theater, festivals, art and historical museums, outstanding libraries, medical services, human scale architecture, educational institutions, and wonderful hotels and places to dine. I thrive on its cross culture history and the energy and enthusiasm I experience with others who are as fortunate as I am to live here. The natives and those who are moving into Charleston have a high level of social interest that challenges my creative artist mind and a drive to honor my own history and heritage.

Why is the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project passionate about World Heritage designation for Charleston?

To have Charleston recognized in the World Heritage List would be one of the greatest honors this city could ever achieve. To acquire such a status would bring a level of positive insight and visibility to a part of American history that has been under recognized, misunderstood, and unfortunately discounted. I have deeply internalized the principle that one can never understand the depth of American history without studying, understanding, and internalize our African and Native American history and its incredible contributions to American history.

Too often when studying the architecture and history of Charleston, it has been recognized for the business enterprise of a small and powerful landed class. What has not been recognized is the enslaved African labor force and their descendents that built and continue to maintain this city through housing, churches, cultural institutions, agriculture, floodways, and spirituality. Recognition on the World Heritage List would help us resolve this disparity in our history. It would be a springboard that would require that we be “indiscriminately inclusive” to provide a clear frame of reference and safe environment in which such discussions can occur without fear of backlash or misunderstanding. By fostering open and informed dialogue, and by exposing participants to the many aspects and interconnections of Lowcountry culture, we could confront differences of opinion directly, resolve conflict, stimulate the local economy, and find common ground on which whites, blacks, Native Americans, immigrants and others can express mutual respect, dampen false debate and celebrate a common heritage.

Thank you to Jonathan and Lowcountry Rice Culture Project for all of your support!

Charleston World Heritage Coalition Executive Statement, October 1, 2015

Carolina Gold:   20 Iconic Sites of the Charleston Lowcountry Plantation Culture

Situated along the Atlantic coastal plain in the southeastern United States, the plantation culture of Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry represents an exceptional example of human manipulation of land to exploit natural resources and create a distinct social and economic system that influenced the geo-cultural region from the late seventeenth into the late nineteenth centuries.  Through a confluence of geography, topography, climate, and human capital, Caribbean and European immigrants established a plantation-driven economy and culture in the Lowcountry that depended primarily on the skills and labor of enslaved Africans acquired through the trans-Atlantic slave trade. The former agricultural fields and formal landscapes of outlying plantations, together with key elements of Charleston residential, civic, and commercial architecture, continue to demonstrate how the plantation culture of the Lowcountry served as the cornerstone and economic engine of this globally-significant seventeenth, eighteenth, and nineteenth century North American city.

Cash crops drove the development of Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry’s extraordinary culture and economy, particularly “Carolina Gold” rice, which in the early eighteenth century became a worldwide commodity and stimulus for cultivation in other parts of North America. The resulting agricultural and mercantile economies, as well as the building typology they engendered, were made possible by a slave-based system. Even after slavery was abolished in the 1860s, the race and class divisions constructed through this labor system continued to shape social development in Charleston. The city and the surrounding Lowcountry landscape serve as a testimony to the power struggles and intercultural exchange between Africans, Europeans, West Indians, and their descendants across three centuries. The cultural landscape also distinctly reflects the urban-rural relationship that was significant to the economy’s growth. In the twenty-first century the Charleston area maintains key attributes of both the landscape and built environment of the distinctive culture produced through the historic plantation system.

TENTATIVE PROPERTY LIST

  1. Caw Caw Interpretive Center County Park, 18th century
  2. Drayton Hall Historic Site, c. 1738
  3. Middleton Place, c. 1741
  4. Michael’s Episcopal Church and Graveyard, c. 1752-61
  5. Gadsden’s Wharf, c. 1767
  6. Old Exchange and Provost Building, c. 1767-71
  7. Miles Brewton House and Property, c. 1769
  8. Heyward-Washington House and Property, c. 1772
  9. Fort Sumter National Monument (incorporates Fort Moultrie), c. 1776, c. 1829-60s
  10. Charleston County Courthouse, c. 1790-92
  11. Daniel Ravenel House, c. 1796
  12. Charleston City Hall, c. 1800
  13. Nathaniel Russell House and Property, c. 1808
  14. William Aiken House and Property, c. 1808
  15. Aiken-Rhett House and Property, c. 1817
  16. Hibernian Hall, c. 1839-41
  17. Synagogue of Kahal Kadosh Beth Elohim and Graveyard, c. 1840-41
  18. McLeod Plantation Historic Site, c. 1858
  19. Old Slave Mart, c. 1859
  20. Emanuel AME Church, c. 1891

 

The following themes may be part of the final nomination:

• Urban-rural relationship (waterways, Ashley River Road, plantation homesteads and urban counterparts, urban buildings constructed through agricultural money)

• Residential complexes: main house with work yard and outbuildings

• Single house typology (and its relationship to the freedman’s cottages)

• Charleston’s role in the transatlantic slave trade

• Physical builders of the city

• Formal plantation landscapes

• Agricultural fields and evolution of commodities (livestock, naval stores, rice, indigo,

• Reasons for settlement (economic gain and therefore religious tolerance, Barbadian influence on structure)

• Diverse origin of settlers

• Coherence in the typology and architecture between vernacular and sophisticated/grand/refined

• Charleston’s role in wartime: significant leader financially meant a leading player in

• Retained Gullah Geechee culture

• Development of preservation standards (i.e. historic district)

Symposium Deemed a Success

Last week, the Charleston World Heritage Coalition hosted international experts from six countries for three days of public meetings and private discussions to help the Coalition with its bid to nominate Charleston as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The Symposium began with a public forum on August 19 with over 180 community members in attendance. The forum included presentations by experts on Charleston’s unique history, such Jonathan Poston, author of Buildings of Charleston and Jane Aldrich, executive director of the Lowcountry Rice Culture Project, as well as lectures on the World Heritage process from international expert attendees. Guest presenters were Gustavo Araoz, president of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) and World Heritage consultants Alexandra Kruse and Bernd Paulowitz of insitu World Heritage Consulting in Paris, France.

The day concluded with two panel discussions and Q&A sessions featuring local supporters, such as Historic Charleston Foundation, College of Charleston, Jonathan Green and Daniel Ravenel Sotheby’s International Reality, and visiting international experts from Canada, Spain and Barbados.

The public forum was followed by two days of site visits and closed roundtable discussions to determine what is Charleston’s “Outstanding Universal Value,” i.e. what aspects of the area’s history is globally significant and important to the entire human race.

The international experts agreed unanimously that Charleston’s cultural landscape is worthy of World Heritage designation; however there is a long road ahead. The first step will be for Charleston to be accepted on the U.S. National Park Service Tentative List, a list of sites for consideration to be submitted to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for a final decision. Once on the Tentative List, the creation of an in depth dossier of research and supporting documentation will be created to send to UNESCO for consideration.

The Charleston World Heritage Coalition views the recent Symposium as a success and major milestone in the process. The Coalition hopes to continue engagement with the public throughout the next steps of the nomination process, and maintain advisory relationships with the visiting expert panel. Ruthie Ravenel, board member of the Coalition stated, “We could not have accomplished such a successful event without the support and participation of our community and coalition members. We were very excited by the turnout at the events and the wide-ranging support we have seen in the Charleston public for this project. The Charleston World Heritage Coalition remains committed to continuing to actively engage the community in the form of open forums and discussions in the future.”